A sweet Christmas is nailed on when Claire Goodwin’s in the kitchen. That’s why we’re thrilled the GBBO contestant is creating an exclusive festive recipe for Standard Issue each week in the lead up to the big day. Here’s another alternative to traditional Christmas puds.
Anyone with a sweet tooth should prepare for their mouths to melt
Ok, so we are looking at one week to go before the big fella squeezes down the chimney and stuffs his face with your mince pies and sherry, and Rudolf leaves you with cracked roof tiles and unsightly window stains (too many carrots).
I’m anticipating a swift Katie Hopkins comment on Santa’s clinical obesity and alcoholism at some point in the next few days to really get that Christmas cheer going.
And am awaiting the Mr and Mrs Claus swimsuit shots in the sidebar of shame to prompt a dose of unhealthy Christmas commentary. Any day soon I reckon.
In any case, La Hopkins should be in for a bumper Crimbo this year; what with all her humanitarian work around healthy and tolerant living and guiding the ignorant to pursue a better life.
Let’s hope Santa brings her an extra-large selection box for her troubles.
On the subject of staying off the naughty list, I have bought my husband a boning knife for Christmas (he picked it). As is Carl’s standard response to any phrase or title that has the hint of an innuendo, he reflexively uttered: “I’ll bone you with my knife”.
It sounded significantly less Benny Hill and more Michael Myers, so we agreed we must never make a joke about human butchery again. I can’t wait for the Christmas Eve hilarity to ensue as we discuss boning the turkey instead.
I don’t really know what else to get my husband. In my head, the phrase ‘stocking filler’ whirrs around on loop, reminding there isn’t anything to open with his ‘big’ present. My worry, not his. Such indoctrinated silliness.
So rather than a million gifts compulsively bought to fulfil a sense of duty and guilt, I have decided to lavish my time on the food. Because everyone gets something out of good food.
Here is my second alternative to Christmas Pudding. This time much heavier that the light and fruity pavlova, so a really good substitute for the laden content of the Christmas Pudding, if your guests are expecting calories.
You can add booze to the Penuche if you like. I am not, as some of my pudding munchers are tee-total. Enjoy, it is a beaut.
For the shortcrust case:
Here goes a little pastry masterclass for you…
First task: Make your shortcrust (or buy some, but it isn’t as nice and home made will be all buttery and lovely).
I use a food processor for my pastry as my hands are really warm and I end up with a soggy mess. If you don’t have a food processor and also possess the hands of Satan, make sure your butter is cold and run your hands and wrists under cold water intermittently to keep your palm temperature down. Top tip from my Nana Dot there.
Cut 200g of butter into cubes and place in food processor or a bowl. Add 400g of plain flour. Turn your food processor on so that the butter and flour combine to produce fine breadcrumbs. If doing this in a bowl, rub the butter and flour together between your thumb and fingertips to create fine breadcrumbs. You need some tepid water, around 80ml (approx 5/6 tablespoons). Add to the processor/bowl bit by bit and pulse the food processor/stir mix with a fork until the breadcrumbs start to stick together and you bring together a large clump or mixture.
Lightly flour a surface and tip your pastry out onto the surface. It will be crumbly and not completely together. If it doesn’t stick together when squeezed, you need more water (add little by little). If it is very greasy or sticky, you need more flour (again add little by little).
Now, some bakers will tell you to lightly squeeze the crumbs together into a ball without working the dough too much. This creates a very short pastry that crumbles and melts once cooked. The only problem with this is it is impossible to roll out and make a thin, neat, crispy buttery tart case (in my humble – kicked off the Bake Off in the first week – opinion).
I also do not believe it holds its shape when you cut the tart/pie after cooking. The trick is a happy medium. If you pummel and knead the pastry you will stretch the glutens and your pastry will be tough, it will also shrink away from your pastry case in the oven. Not enough working and you have a crumbly, nightmare with dough that falls apart when you cut it once cooked.
Once you have a smooth-ish looking ball of dough, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for a minimum of an hour, longer if you have the time. This rests the pastry, making the glutens relax so that even though you haven’t worked the dough too much, it should still stick together and roll out nicely when you come to use it.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 5
Lightly flour a clean flat surface and roll your dough out to fit your tart case. For the quantities in this recipe, I am using a 30cm diameter round fluted edge loose base flan tin. You can use a springform as a substitute. You can also use a ceramic flan dish, though I’d recommend serving from that. Make sure you grease your tin.
Roll the pastry larger than the tin, you want it to overhang. You will blind bake the case with the overhang in place. This combats shrinkage and we will tidy it up after the blind bake. Line with two layers of cling film and pour in ceramic baking beans, dried beans, rice or pulses to weight the pastry down and ensure that the case cooks in a uniform manner.
Bake for 20 minutes then leave to cool. Remove the beans and cling film. Once cool roll a rolling pin across the top of the flan to trim the excess overhang. Et voila! Perfect pastry case.
(Note: if you use this method to make a quiche case, once cooked, remove the beans and paint the inside of the case with egg wash. Re-bake for another 10 minutes and you will create a waterproof seal ensuring there isn’t a soggy bottom in sight. You’re welcome.)
For the Penuche
Penuche is a brown sugar fudge, Italian in origin and really easy to make. You don’t have to use pecans for this, you can use anything you want that you feel will suit the toffee flavour of the fudge and compliment the chocolate mousse.
You will need:
880g brown sugar. I like Billingtons
240ml double cream
Dash of vanilla extract, I like Kirkland Signature
200g pecan halves, chopped
Pinch of flaked sea salt
1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, cream and butter. Stir it all together until uniform
2. Heat to 240F/116° (soft ball stage)
3. Remove from the heat and stir really quickly until the mixture loses its gloss, or you can use a hand blender for this, but only blitz for around 30 seconds.
4. Stir in the pecans so they are evenly distributed and pour immediately into a 9 x 9 inch tin.
5. Sprinkle the pinch of salt over the top evenly
6. Leave to cool and then cut into small squares/shapes for the top of the tart
For the mousse filling
560g dark chocolate chopped
280g butter, cut into cubes
8 eggs, separated
200g golden caster sugar
200g white chocolate
1. Prepare a bain marie on the stove (bowl over pan of boiling water)
2. Add the dark chocolate, butter and water and leave to melt
3. Stir until all incorporated and melted
4. Remove the bowl from the heat
5. Whisk up the egg yolks and add them to the chocolate mixture, beating in between so that they don’t scramble
6. Whisk the egg whites. As they become fluffy, add the golden caster sugar bit by bit.
7. When the egg whites are forming soft peaks that do not fall from the whisk when lifted, this is ready.
8. Spoon the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and fold in until they are all incorporated.
9. Pour into the cooled pastry case
10. Melt the white chocolate over a pan on the stove. Swirl into the chocolate mousse filling to create a marbled effect
11. Chill this in the fridge. After an hour, there should still be a wobble in the mousse. Arrange your penuche on the tart. Return to the fridge for another hour or until set.
When all is done, remove from the flan tin and onto a platter for serving. I decorated mine with more pecan halves which I painted with gold edible paint. Obviously not a necessity unless you are Liberace.
Serve with coffee and liqueurs. Or diamonds (again, if you are Liberace).
Claire is a speech therapist, baker, cake decorator, sometime radio guest and writer. She writes about food, being fat and living with mental health problems @bake_therapist; www.baketherapy.co.uk; www.facebook.com/CakeChemistryUK